NEWS - Monday, June 8, 2009

MS: Thriving Marketplace is "bigger than ever"

   As Microsoft adds more functionality to the the Xbox Live Marketplace, the online business is offering multiple opportunities for developers to grow their business with new revenue streams through services such as the new Avatar Marketplace.

 That’s according to Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten, who said that the New Xbox Experience has been pivotal in opening up earlier efforts to monetise games post-release.

"I believe now, as we launch things like Avatar Marketplace where we give people the ability to create content that they can award with their games, props and costumes, but also to create IP that they can put in the store, you will see that actually be bigger than we ever saw with Gamer Pics, because it’s such a richer ecosystem and a richer way for people to express who they are," he said in an exclusive interview published today.

   Microsoft wants the creation of digital assets to be simple for developers, with Whitten suggesting the more a developer creates additional content for games, the higher the rewards.

"Our goal is that these things are very easy. The beauty of many of these things, especially things like Themes, things like personalisation around Avatar items, is that they are pure digital assets, which allows you to optimise a lot of the tools around this creation, ingestion and the content pipeline for that."

"The more you engage the community with the functionality that you build in and out of the game, I think it creates an overall opportunity."

  Whitten highlighted recent titles Kingdom for Keflings and Geometry Wars 2 as examples of developers using Avatars or Leaderboards to enhance and reach a wider audience. The New Xbox Experience, he said, is acting as a deeper online experience similar to traditional web sites and services.

"This is the first time that you can change it consistently and over time," he said. "Something like Spotlight is a great example, where everybody sees that when they first pop on. It’s a great experience.

"But frankly what we’ve seen is that people do an awful lot of exploring of the New Xbox Experience in a pretty rich way pretty consistently. So it kind of serves as a very advanced website, and you see people tracking us. We put interesting content up there, interesting games, interesting things like Inside Xbox. We see a lot of people who just go check out that content."

  Microsoft introduced the New Xbox Experience in the autumn last year, and is set to roll-out multiple new features such as games-on-demand and Avatar Marketplace later this year. Whitten wouldn’t rule out a new redesign if warranted along with changes to the user interface.

"It could possibly happen in that part of the value of this generation is how with something like Xbox Live and the power of the console, you can reinvent the experience and continue to grow the experience.

"What I’ll tell you is right now, the New Xbox Experience has been incredibly successful. It’s given us the ability to expand faster, to innovate faster, to target things. The fact that we’re launching a new category, a new channel like the Music Channel, is because we have the ability of the New Xbox Experience to expand to give us this place that we can do that work," he concluded.


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